Engineering Continuing Education – Benefits of Online Continuing Education Courses

Suppose in a few months you will be renewing your Professional Engineering license. Going through the checklist, you notice that you need continuing education courses. Oh no, there is not enough time left to register for a college class or find a convention or seminar in your local area. What are you going to do? What about online? Are there any websites offering engineering courses? Yes, there are. You have found several websites, but will your State Licensure Board accept these courses? And what is the difference between a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) and Professional Development Hour (PDH)?

For the most part engineers are very conservative when it comes to trying something new. Although online engineering courses have been around for more than a decade, many engineers may not think of obtaining their professional development hours through a course on the internet. There are many advantages to this form of continuing education.

If you are like me, you have paid many thousands of dollars for continuing education over the years. Conventions and seminars can cost $300 to $500 a day for registration, and then there is the cost of meals, lodging and travel expenses. Even if you are lucky and the convention is in your home town, you still will have lost time at the office. There has to be a better way to obtaining continuing education units.

Of course, you could take a continuing education course at a college or university. These classes are usually designed to appeal to a mass audience and are rarely specific enough for engineering. The better technique is to take an actually college engineering course, but that can consume a lot of time.

Since much of engineering can be observed or read, online study courses can have some major advantages over the traditional sources of continuing education.

Convenience

  • Online courses are available on you own schedule
  • Self-paced – You can learn as fast or as slow as you want
  • Does not require your physical presence at location of the seminar
  • You can study wherever you want to – At home, work, in the library
  • Courses are available 24/7
  • You can read the material online or download them for reading later

Flexibility

  • Online courses are student-centered by accommodating your preferences and needs
  • Choose instructor-led or self-study courses
  • Skip over material you already know and focus on topics you’d like to learn
  • Use the tools best suited to your learning styles

Selection

  • Courses available in all engineering disciplines, ethics, and managerial
  • Courses are available for the individual as while as the group

Cost

  • Some courses are free
  • Many courses are available in a wide range of prices
  • No travel expenses
  • No lodging expenses
  • No lost work hours

Accreditation

  • Engineering continuing education courses credit the engineer with Professional Development Hours (PDH) or Continuing Education Units (CEU)
  • Many courses are accredited, but in most states this is not a requirement
  • It is the responsibility of the engineer to ensure the course meets the state requirements

As you can see, online courses have many benefits that are well suited for the engineer. With online courses the engineer can quickly obtain the number of PDH or CEU required for licensing renewal and to gain the necessary knowledge in technical applications.

In this article we have discussed why online continuing education courses are a good benefit for the engineer. Although there are number of other sources, the benefits of online learning are far more convenient and less expensive. Online websites offer many engineering courses; technical, ethical, and managerial. For the most part these courses are acceptable to State Licensure Boards for renewing Professional Engineering licenses.

How to Start a Coffee Shop or Coffee Business

So you’ve decided to get into the World of Coffee! Coffee can provide a multitude of opportunities and can also apply to anyone wanting to start up a Sandwich Bar, Cafe or Deli. Infact anyone wanting to open any business that features Coffee. Many types of business serve coffee these days, with either a Traditional Espresso Machine or automatic Bean to Cup Machine. Bookshops, Bicycle Shops, Motor Cycle Dealers to name but a few. Any business that attracts like minded people who share common interests is a great place to start a Coffee Shop. It gives people the chance to socialise and talk about their shared interests. This business diversification also provides an additional income for these businesses that are not “out and out” Coffee Shops.

Like any business that people want to start up, it’s usually because they have an interest in some element of their chosen business idea. It’s always a good idea to do something you like doing or have a skill at, otherwise what’s the point? However, just because you have a “passion” and a dream of setting up your own Coffee Shop doesn’t mean that it will be automatically successful. The same rules apply for any business – Doesn’t matter how good your idea is, you need to make sure there is a “need” in your town or geographic area. This research will form part of your “Business Plan”. A business plan is more than just putting a few figures together to get finance. “Your Business Plan” is just that. It’s about getting your thoughts and ideas down on paper and creating a plan of action for business research, marketing research, project managing and forecasts for getting your business open. It should also be business planning for the future to make sure you stay open! There is an old saying in business; “If You Fail to Plan You Plan to Fail”. It’s a known fact that a large proportion of new businesses fail within the first 3 Years.

Get a clear vision of what you would like your business to be. Try and picture it in your mind. Where would you like it to be? What does it look like? What’s the decor and style? Who are your customers? Apart from Coffee what other offering will you have? What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)? Basically, you have to identify how you can be a bit different from any competition that will also appeal to your potential customers. The most important thing to find out from as many people as possible within your “market place” is; Do they agree with your “vision”? and; Are they prepared to become a customer and pay for it? Put a questionnaire together and go and talk to as many people as you can to find out if your coffee business idea is what they would spend their money on. Also ask open questions about what “they” would like to see in their area. They might suggest some things you never thought of. They may also criticise some of your ideas, don’t take it personally. If their criticism is valid learn by it. Remember, it’s not about what you want. Give them what they want and they will spend their money with you rather than someone else. Check out other Coffee Shops to see how they do it. Not only your local “competition” but further a field. Make several visits at different times of the day if possible. Also, try and look at them from a customers point of view. Make notes of not only the things they seem to do right, but what you think they do wrong. Do they have a steady stream of customers all day or just at lunchtimes? Make a note of prices. Once you are aware of the costs of products then you can guess their “mark up”. Do you think they have the customers they need to make a good return from their prices? Of course, this is not the whole profit story. You have to consider overheads and staff wages etc. You will have a better idea once you “cost out” your own business which we will come to shortly. Correlate all of the “plus” points you have found in the competition and combine them with your USP and VISION for your business and see if you think you can do things a bit better.

Once you have a clear picture about your business then apply what is known as the “Four P’s of Marketing”. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. This can expand to the seven P’s for the service industry. There’s lots of information online but basically all the P’s have to match to get the right “Marketing Mix” for the product and/or service. For example: A high cost perfume couldn’t be sold on a market stall. It’s unlikely that the correct pricing could be achieved and there’s a good chance that shoppers wouldn’t believe the perfume to be the “real” thing anyway. The “marketing mix” is all wrong. If you consider the four P’s when seeing how an expensive perfume is sold you will see what I mean. The Product (a top brand), Place (where – high class perfumeries and shops in some of the worlds most exclusive Cities). Promotion (TV, Cinema, Product placement and the Worlds most exclusive media magazines). Therefore the Price is set according to the social and financial level of the customer being promoted to. Basically, it’s that old saying that “If you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it”. The fours P’s match and you have the right marketing mix. Decide what market sector you want your Coffee business to fit in to. If you want your business to be “classy” with a “stylish” decor and serving a range of “top quality” goodies served by immaculate, polite and efficient staff (Product) then to get the “Price” you need or want then you will have to ensure you are in the right upmarket area or Town (Place) that has an upmarket level of customers. The way your business looks on the High Street and your high level of service that would be expected by your upmarket clientele is the correct Promotion in itself. People tend to mix in the same circles as themselves thereby promoting your business by “word of mouth” within an exclusive group of people. These days this process is strengthened with “social media”.

So where do you find all this information if you don’t really know the area where you want to set up? Within the UK, County Councils will have a wealth of information available within the NATIONAL CENSUS reports for the area. For example it can tell you property values and where they are. Socio Economic Groups (A, B, C1 etc). What their Income levels are and where they live in the area. It can tell you the age groups, how many in each group and where they live. All this information and more can be used to find out where to locate your business for the market sector you are looking for.

Time to look at yourself and any partners there might be. You need to determine everybody’s “Strengths and Weaknesses”. Make a list under each heading. A strength doesn’t have to be a fully fledged “Barista” at this stage. You can be trained in that area – more on Barista Training later. However, for now, coffee making skills might be a weakness until you receive training. For example; a strength is any quality or skill you may already have that can be applied to your new coffee shop business. You might naturally be a good organiser and have great “people skills”. These are great for managing your business and staff. People skills are pretty important in a “hospitality” business! The same theory applies to your “Weaknesses” list. If you are a disorganised person then you need to be able to delegate to someone who is a good organiser or learn the skills required to discipline yourself into the everyday management of your business. “People skills” is a skill that can be learnt. There are many courses and books available in this are of personal and business communications, customer service and hospitality industry courses. In general, analyse yourself and partners to determine if there are any qualities, knowledge or skills that are lacking to run your business then get the training you need. Don’t forget Accounting skills. This seems an obvious skill that a business needs but can easily get brushed aside in the midst of excitement about starting a new business. No matter how big your dream is of being part of the “Cafe Culture” you need to know how to look after the “pennies” and control your “Cashflow Forecasts” and “Profit + Loss” Accounts. Continue building your list of Strengths and Weaknesses with anything you can think of that will be required to run your business. If you’re not sure how to think about, and compile your list, then once again guidance is available in many business books etc.

Before discussing Barista Coffee Skills; an area which you need to explore depending upon your location and the nature of products that you may sell is food hygiene. Check out the relevant Food Standard Authority in your geographic location. In the UK it’s the Food Standards Agency. See http://www.food.gov.uk You need to consider Food Hygiene training and learn about the regulations in this area. Back to making coffee; You don’t need to be a fully qualified Barista before you can make excellent Espresso based coffees and have customers flocking back for more. However, if you have no previous experience, you will need some training and time for some practice before you open your door to customers. With my business, you would be taught some basic skills at the time of your Espresso machine installation. This would involve training on the machine and coffee bean grinder; how to operate them and “best practice” use of the equipment. Day to day maintenance and cleaning schedules will be explained to ensure trouble free use of the equipment. The next step is to show how to prepare a range of the most popular speciality coffees I.e. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Espressos, Latte Macchiato, Mochas etc. including Steaming and Stretching the milk to obtain the perfect micro-foam. Once you get some work experience and have an understanding of the processes then you can take advantage of more advanced Barista Training if you feel the need.

I’ve already suggested you visit other Coffee businesses in your area for market research and gathering vital intelligence on the competition. At the same time decide if you need other “Coffee Shop Skills” by being a “customer”. If it’s a good Coffee Shop then observe the general skills that the staff have and how they attend to customers. Now we come to the cost!

So you now have a clear vision of your business. You can now see your “dream” more vividly in your minds eye but can you afford it? Your initial SET UP costs are going to be for “Premises” – Lease costs. Rent will be a “Fixed Cost”. Property renovations and fixtures, fittings and equipment and potentially uniforms with be “Set Up” costs. Make a list of ALL the equipment you are going to need. Not to mention a Coffee Machine and all related coffee equipment. If your business is to be a Coffee Shop, Coffee Lounge or any business dedicated to the excellence of coffee then you will require a Traditional Espresso Machine set up. If it’s going to be Fast Food, Takeaway etc where staff are doing several jobs at once. McDonalds staff for example, then a Bean to Cup machine would be a better choice because of operational needs. See my article on How to Choose Commercial Coffee Machines – Espresso Machines, Bean to Cup, Bulk Brew . If you are starting from absolute scratch you are going to need counters, chilled display cabinets and serve over counters. Food prep equipment (Stainless Steel tables etc.) Grills, Ovens, Refridgerators, Water Boilers, Dishwashers; the list goes on and will be specific for your business. All will have to be “commercial” specification as opposed to domestic equipment. FIXED COSTS, surprise, surprise, are those costs that will hopefully not change too much and are not related to sales. The “cost” of sales is a “variable cost”. Fixed costs are Shop Rent, Business Rates, Insurance, Electric and Gas services if arranged on a fixed monthly plan, Staff Wages, National Insurance (check out all costs relating to employment). Don’t forget your own wages! Telephone Rental, Broadband tariff, WiFi costs – you get the idea. VARIABLE COSTS are related to the cost of producing and providing anything that you sell. For example: Coffee beans, milk, sugar, coffee syrups and sauces, disposable cups. Crockery cups would be a fixed cost but that would depend upon if you and staff have “butter fingers”. All other drinks, food and any other consumables that are used as a result of you making “sales”. Other variables that are not quite as obvious are Advertising and Promotion. It may not be something you do all the time therefore it is “variable”. Please note that any advertising and promotion should be monitored to establish success of campaign and cost per customer. Over time you will have an idea of your customers average spend. Relate that to the average cost of getting a customer and will be able to evaluate if your “campaigns” are worthwhile. All these “variable” costs need to be built in to your Financial Projections which should be for at least 12mths and beyond. Financial Projections should be in the form of a “Profit + Loss” spreadsheet. This is important in assessing the viability of the business. A “Cashflow” Forecast is also very important in the real world, not only for your initial projections but also as a working “day to day” document once you get your business open. There is plenty of information available in business books and online on how to put these projections together. If you have an Accountant, discuss all things financial with them. There is an old business saying that “Turnover is Vanity”. Make sure you are always looking at the “bottom line” of Profit in any financial figures you put together. As mentioned; your Business Plan should extend into the future. A 5 year plan is a good idea. Outline your ideas and vision for future growth. Set business goals and evaluate if you achieved them. Your Business Plan should be a “dynamic document” to respond to the “marketplace” and your ideas. If you you don’t know where your going how will you ever get there!

For those just starting out in any business, I hope this article has given you some insights. Good luck with your future ventures and please feel free to contact me.

Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.